TESFA (Tourism in Ethiopia for Sustainable Future Alternatives)

Experience the Real Ethiopia
Berihun and Shepherd boys near AkatWajela Community with their first guestsHanna trekking in MeketMark trekking in MeketYilma Kebede, TESFA Manager, North WolloHanna in Lalibela (Beta Gabriel & Raphael)Yilma watches kids practice guna (Akat)Berihun discusses with the Aterow community over a beer (Kurefi) at a Senbete meeting Dejitnu trains cooks from Mequat & Wajela Berihun Abebe working for TESFA in MeketEsubalew Setegn, working for TESFA in MeketFirst choice for Responsible Tourism Award 2005


TESFA (Tourism in Ethiopia for Sustainable Future Alternatives) was registered in Ethiopia in 2003 as a non-profit making, local Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), the status of charities in Ethiopia. TESFA is committed to helping communities in Ethiopia to provide a service to tourists to enable them to make additional money.

A group of development professionals envisaged the concept of a network of community run tourism enterprises that would allow tourists to trek across the remarkable landscape, getting closer to the real culture of the Ethiopian highlands, and at the same time put precious money into the local communities for whom farming is becoming ever more precarious a livelihood.


TESFA initially operated as part of a Save the Children (UK) project to develop rural livelihoods in the area with funding the Royal Netherlands Embassy. The project which began in 2004, ran up to April 2008.

Since 2006 TESFA has received grants from the Irish Embassy/Irish Aid which have enabled the development of the Guiding Enterprise in Lalibela and the Technical Support Unit in Addis and is enabling TESFA to expand their work. The British Embassy has also provided grants to develop the marketing and further expand the operation in Meket. Additional funding was received in 2007/2008 from the German Embassy, Responsibletravel.com, the Tresillian Trust, ICAP, the Embassy Wives fund and numerous clients and supporters who have enabled TESFA to extend the network of community tourism sites in Meket Woreda and onto Abuna Yoseph where TESFA are starting to work in collaboration with Frankfurt Zoological Society to help conserve the fragile envronment on this mountain home to the theatened and endemic Ethiopia Wolf.

A big thank you to everyone who has contributed.

Staff in Addis Ababa

TESFA has an office in Addis to provide technical support and develop marketing and bookings systems for the community tourism sites and field operations.

TESFA's manager is Million Eshete, a committed and energetic advocate of community empowerment. He has an MA in education planning and management, and has years of experience working with SOS Sahel with local communities as part of an integrated development programme in Meket Woreda.

Mark Chapman is employed as the technical advisor. He worked as a consultant through the SOS Sahel Community Tourism pilot, and has been instrumental in the setting up and developing of TESFA.

In charge of bookings is Hanna Girma, who prior to starting with TESFA was running the floor at the Ethnological Museum, organising special exhibits and guiding tourists.

Staff in Wollo

Yilma Kebede has also been recruited to manage TESFA operations in North Wollo. A very committed individual, he ran a local micro credit institute for six years and then worked for a charity working with street children. His background is an accountant. He is based in Lalibela.

Berihun Abebe, an energetic member of the team and himself a Meket lad, cut his teeth in the same SOS Sahel project, learning the values of participation. He is tirelessly working in Meket to assist the local communities to develop their tourism hosting capacity. No one could be more hard working and dedicated to the needs of the farmers.

Esubalew Setegn also a local lad, is working alongside Berihun in Meket to assist the communities.

TESFA also relies on the skills of Dejitnew Bihonegne to train the communities to cook, cater for their guests. In additional she works as store keeper and temporarily as cashier.

Shifaraw Heyi, an experienced accountant with Abyssinian Flight Services, is temporarily filling the position of accountant since the tragic death of TESFA's previous accountant early in 2008. He is using his experience to upgrade TESFA's financial procedures. A full time accountant will be recruited in August/September.

TESFA's Board and founders

TESFA is directed by a strong, committed administrative board. The current chair is Judith Sandford who has a Masters degree in Anthropology and years of experience in development and in Ethiopia. The vice chair, Tenna Shitarek, works for Action Aid has an MA from Manchester University (UK) in Environment and Development He has worked with a number of organisations including SOS Sahel (Programme Team Leader MDP), and Save the Children (UK). The secretary, Workneh Bekele has a diploma in accounting and has helped TESFA develop financial and accounting systems. The other board members are the previous chair, Sintayehu Manaye who has a BA in forestry and many years of experience in development organisations and Dawit Dejene a private businessman owning and operating a travel agency and a guesthouse with a Masters in business administration.

In addition to the board, a number of other supporters have helped develop TESFA including founder members: Million Legesse, Yallew Tizazu and Konjit Seyoum who have given freely of their time, and who continue to support TESFA, and Justin Corbet whose vision and ideas have been a key part of TESFA's inspiration.

TESFA's Mission Statement

TESFA seeks to work in partnership with local communities to enable them to generate sustainable improvements in their livelihood through the development of their own tourism related enterprises, while also contributing to the protection of their physical and cultural environments.

TESFA sees its role as a catalyst in initiating a process that will become sustainable on a commercial basis. It considers that solutions to poverty alleviation lie with civil society and the rural poor themselves. TESFA will practice participatory methods by working in partnership with local communities, and use the same principles within its own organisation and with its staff. At the same time TESFA aims to develop longer term communication, understanding and linkages (national and international) between the rural poor of Ethiopia and peoples from other cultural and economic backgrounds.